Our first Radical Springs Walk today was a great success. Eighteen of us wandered through the Toadsmoor Valley, hoping to locate and name six springs in the tumbling landscape. In the end, we discovered seven.
We gathered at the first spring and named it ‘Bella’; we stood in the mud as we talked about how on 12th Night, we would turn the world upside down by discovering the subterranean sources of our civilization, and naming these, up to now, anonymous springs.
Our second spring was named ‘Holly’, where a tincture was bottled and where Shiraz swigged the lot; another tincture was taken. Young people were given the chance to name the third spring and in the interests of gender-balance, we asked for male names: Noah’s Spring and Bob’s Spring duly followed. Another tincture was taken at Noah’s Spring, in a broken bottle, stopped with a mouldering ash twig.
The fifth spring was named Voles’ Spout; the sixth spring was designated Ash Spring; an artificial water-course was called ‘Shiraz’s Fall’. This appellation was made in honour of Shiraz, the only one to seriously slip with theatrical pirouette, in an otherwise safe peregrination.
The seventh spring provided a moral instruction to all those who rush through life, seeking a destination. The majority of the group walked on in that absence of mind that so often accompanies the end of a walk, when thoughts turn to food and drink; the more mindful members of the troupe, pyschogeographically focused on the here and now, noticing the next spring, which was aptly named ‘Forget-Me-Not’. Travellers dropped down into the water to record and video this aquatic issue.
Our eventual intention is to have a springs exhibition in the Brunel Goods Shed, with a cabinet of curiosities of labelled spring water, video installations, audio recordings, oral history reminiscences, creative and historical writings, re-imaginings and a pop-up restaurant.
After that, we leave the search for the natural genius loci of Stroud and the Five Valleys and move on to more conventional radical history. But for the nonce, our next springs walk will be on Sunday March 10th, meeting at 11.15 outside the Prince Albert, when we will map the Urban Springs of Stroud and its Edgelands.